Mosul governor calls for logistical help, suggests ‘air strikes' against ISIL bases

Mosul governor calls for logistical help, suggests ‘air strikes' against ISIL bases

ARBIL - Radikal
Mosul governor calls for logistical help, suggests ‘air strikes against ISIL bases

Mosul Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi (L) and Fehim Taştekin speak during the interview in Arbil.

Mosul Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, who fled from the city after it was seized by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, has called for logistical help and suggested that air strikes could be conducted in “uninhabited areas” against the jihadist group’s bases, in an exclusive interview with daily Radikal.

“We want help, but we are not favorable to the deployment of foreign troops in our region. Air strikes might be conducted, not in the cities but on ISIL bases in uninhabited areas. We need political and logistical support, but not foreign troops,” al-Nujaifi told Radikal journalist Fehim Taştekin in Arbil, where he fled after ISIL took over Mosul.

Al-Nujaifi said Baghdad was unlikely to defeat ISIL without the backing of Sunnis in Iraq.

“In my opinion, we need to find a different way to fight against ISIL. It should not be solved [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s way, but within a Sunni project. This is not the fight of Shiites or al-Maliki, but of Sunnis. Al-Maliki cannot fight against ISIL. Only Sunnis can do that, because then ISIL would not be able to use sectarian issues,” he said, also warning against the interventions of Shiite groups either inside or outside the country.

“This would render the situation much more complicated, adding a sectarian dimension to it. I’m afraid that if such a thing happens, all Sunnis will join ISIL,” al-Nujaifi said, adding that the people had “suffered” from the central government, which he accused of having a “sectarian approach.”

“Society was under heavy pressure from the army and the regime. They did not like the army and needed someone to protect them against the military. Both the army and the police have shown a sectarian approach on the issues,” he said.

Close coordination with Kurds

While questioning Baghdad’s ability to deal with the ongoing crisis, al-Nujaifi also said that the most important support they were getting was from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq’s north.

“We are in coordination with the Kurdistan regional administration rather than Baghdad. Baghdad is not close to bringing any solution. We are relying on our own means and the KRG,” he said.
He also dismissed claims that Saddam Hussein’s former right-hand man, İzzat İbrahim al-Douri, was giving support to ISIL, along with other members of the Baath regime. He said groups linked to the Baathists had also captured their own areas within Mosul.

“When the army retreated, these groups took control in their own areas. But this doesn’t mean that they fight alongside ISIL. This is what İzzat al-Douri and the Baathists did. But ISIL and the Baathists are on different roads. They are not the same and cannot be,” al-Nujaifi said.

Regarding the Turkish hostages, the Mosul governor confirmed that ISIL had not demanded a ransom, and in fact had not made any demands yet. “We are trying to contact intermediaries but haven’t got any answer yet,” he added.

Al-Nujaifi, who is the brother of Iraqi Parliament Speaker Usama al-Nujaifi, fled the city after ISIL’s offensive on June 9. The militant group has continued to gain ground since, capturing Tikrit and advancing to Baghdad, triggering alarm in the international community.